Do you ever feel like managing your household bills is a bit like playing whack-a-mole, where every time you hit one, two more pop up? If you’re the family CFO (chief financial officer), then you’ve got a real challenge in front of you every month paying your bills on time and organizing financial paperwork. Even if you’ve already hit the easy-button and switched all your recurring bills to automatic bill payment, there are still going to be plenty of instances where medical bills or other services will need to be paid manually. It could be beneficial for you to get some professional help with record keeping and setting financial goals by hiring a financial advisor. However, it is important to compare a CPA vs financial advisor to figure out which type of financial help is best for you.
Here’s how you can get your bills organized and make sure you don’t miss a single one.
What is the Best Way to Organize Your Bills?
The first step in the process will be to establish a time and place where bills will receive your attention. Here are a few tips to get you started:
Set up an inbox
Whether it’s a simple basket, folder, or desk drawer, establish a place in the house where all incoming bills, paperwork, and important documents must go for review. Make sure this is known to every member of the household.
Schedule a weekly time for paying your bills
The most efficient way to pay your bills is to designate a specific time each week that you will review each of these incoming documents and determine which ones need to be paid. A good time might be on one of your days off work and when there are no other time commitments (such as an early Saturday or Sunday morning).
Establish a bill-paying workspace
As you sit down each week to pay your bills, it should be at a spot in your home where you can work comfortably and free of distractions. A home office is ideal because you’ll most likely need to also have access to your computer and other accessories such as a checkbook, envelopes, stamps, etc.
Pay your bills online when possible
Even if a service provider sends you a bill through the mail, many of them will have an online payment option. As long as there are no additional charges, utilize this choice. Not only will it save you the trouble of writing a check and preparing an envelope, but you’ll also have the peace of mind knowing that the payment was received along with a digital receipt and electronic records to prove it.
And if you're struggling with debt and unpaid bills, learn what happens when you file for bankruptcy.
How Do I Organize My Bills to Be Paid?
To ensure that you don’t have any unpaid bills at the end of the month, you’re going to need a system for making sure each one has been paid. Here are two smart ways to tackle bill organization:
Use a bill binder
A simple three-ring binder can do wonders for your financial situation. As bills are received in your household, place them in the bill binder in order of priority. That way, you can take care of the most important bills first, while those with later due dates can be addressed later on.
Use dividers to categorize your bills according to your preference: Type of service, due date, information only, etc.
Keep track of your bills with a bill payment checklist
It’s no secret that most of your recurring bills like your credit card statements, utility bills, etc., will need to be paid every month. Make a checklist that includes each one and put it as the first page in your bill binder.
As each bill gets paid (even if it was an automatic bill payment), check it off the list to ensure that none are missed that month. This would also be a good way to make sure periodic expenses like insurance payments, property taxes, or income taxes are also taken care of.
How Are Bills Organized by Due Date?
Having your bills all in one spot is nice, but it doesn’t necessarily ensure that you’ll pay them on time. To add an extra layer of organization, try the following:
Create a bill payment spreadsheet
If you’re comfortable using computer programs like Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets, then you could make a list of your bills by the due date to keep track of which ones are paid.
Spreadsheets are extremely handy because they also give you an easy way to keep track of your expenses. This information can then be used later on to help you more accurately determine your monthly budget.
Utilize a monthly planner
Prefer to do things on paper instead?
A planner similar to the one that you would normally use for your work or personal appointments is also a great way to organize your bills by their due date. Simply go to the date each one is paid by and write it in. As it gets paid, you can then check it off your planner.
How Do I Organize My Bills and Papers?
Don’t let your documents get lost in a heap of paper clutter. Keep them organized by utilizing the following:
File cabinets are the tried-and-true way to organize your important papers. For most households, a simple two-drawer unit with several dozen file folders will help you keep them in order according to your preference.
Keep in mind that you don’t have to hang on to things such as a paper account statements or a financial document forever. Most can be thrown out after 12 months. A tax return should be kept for at least 7 years. Read more to learn how long you should keep financial records.
Scan your records
If you prefer to keep things digital, then you could scan your documents and store them on your computer. Most modern household printers will also double as scanners.
Paying your bills online can really help to streamline this process. Not only will you automatically receive a digital receipt that you can then save, but you’ll also skip the manual action of having to scan a paper document.
Securely store your digital documents
Once your documents are in a digital format, the last thing you’ll want to do is let a hacker get access to them and commit identity theft. To avoid this, be sure you’re keeping them in a secure spot where they will be isolated from the rest of your digital files.
An external hard drive or offline digital storage service is a good way to accomplish this. Alternatively, you could also use an app like Pillar, which will help you to organize your digital files and then encrypt them so that only you will have access. Try Pillar for free for 14 days with absolutely no obligations.